Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino says the uncertainty over Denmark star Christian Eriksen’s future is not the reason he started on the bench for their opening Premier League game last Sunday.
The 27-year-old midfielder – who has been at Spurs since 2013 – has just a year left on his contract and attracted interest from Spain, where the transfer window remains open until September 2.
Eriksen showed how pivotal a figure he is to Spurs when he came on with them 1-0 down against Aston Villa last weekend and transformed the match as they ran out 3-1 winners.
The Dane at least got on to make an impact whereas experienced Belgian defender Jan Vertonghen – who also has only 12 months left on his contract – did not make the matchday squad at all.
“For me, it is the same if a player has a year or five years,” said Pochettino at his press conference ahead of Saturday’s trip to champions Manchester City.
“The selection is not because of the length of the contract, it is about the performance.
“I will take the decision based on the performance, not the contract or personal situations.
“My point is to help and support all the players until they decide to take a different way in their career. And show respect to all.”
Pochettino has garnered praise for the style in which his team plays and his belief in developing young talent but the pressure is mounting for him to finally deliver silverware in what is his sixth season in charge.
‘I love Mou’
Former Manchester United and Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has claimed only European champions Liverpool, Tottenham and City’s reserves would be capable of preventing Pep Guardiola’s men retaining their title, such is the English champions’ strength in depth.
But Pochettino’s side was the last team to beat City, eliminating them from the Champions League quarter-finals in April.
“Wow. I love Mou,” said Pochettino.
“You know very well. He’s so clever and so sarcastic sometimes. That’s why he’s one of the best managers in the world and I respect his opinion.
“Of course I’m grateful because a manager like Mourinho believes we have the potential to be contenders. That’s important.
“We have our belief and faith in us but that compliment helps us to believe in ourselves a little bit more.”